Watch CBS News

When Oven Broke At Evanston Bakery, Competitor Became Cooperator

EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) -- Here is a sweet story from the CBS 2 Morning Insiders involving sourdough, oat, and other breads.

Business can be fierce. But as CBS 2's Vince Gerasole reports, it was the competition that came to the rescue when a bakery in Evanston faced a crisis.

Recently at Hewn, 810 Dempster St. in Evanston, the oven broke.

"It just stopped dead, and nothing was happening," said Hewn co-owner Ellen King. "This whole panel was black, like, you couldn't turn it on. It just shut off."

Keep in mind that baking bread dough is a chemical process where timing is everything.

"The clock was ticking for how much time we had to repair it," King said.

Thousands of dollars in dough had already been left to rise. It had been weighed and rolled and was ready for the oven.

"Almost like a child that hasn't been fed, you can see it building in intensity and it's soon just going to like erupt," King said.

But in the wee small hours of what usually would have been a busy Saturday morning, Hewn had to post online a picture of their empty shelves – letting customers know they had to shut down, perhaps for days.

"I felt very bad for them, you know, they've got empty bread shelves," said Jory Downer of the nearby Bennison's Bakery. "'We're not going to have any bread to sell because we don't have an oven.' How horrible is that?"

At that moment, the neighboring community of bread bakers would rise to the occasion.

"I said, well, it would be very unfair of me to not offer something I could do something to help," Downer said.

Bennison's Bakery at 1000 Davis St. is barely four blocks away from Hewn. Bennison's Downer was one of several bakers who offered their empty ovens to Hewn's King on the spot.

"I mean, it was really humbling, to be honest," King said.

King and Downer have bonded now. But at the time, the bakers were barely acquaintances.

"It's pretty amazing. I mean, I've known Jory, but we've never really, like, face-to-face had a conversation," King said.

"I don't know them very well, no – I spoke to them a couple times on the phone; been very cordial," Downer said.

It seems among bakers there is a secret ingredient they all possess -compassion for the profession.

"You know what it takes, and you know that it's not just a matter of: 'I love to bake! I want to open a bakery!'" King said. "It's so much more than that."

"We appreciate each other's struggle, I think," Downer said.

"It's grinding it's grueling, so you have mutual respect for other bakers," King added.

"It's kind of my responsibility to this craft, you know, just out of respect of what we do and how difficult it is to do," Downer added. "Maybe someday, somebody will do that for me."

And of course, those sentiments sound good any way you slice them.

Hewn's oven is now up and running again. On order now is the same brand of oven used by Bennison's.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.